One of the concerns addressed on governmental, private and community levels today is health promotion. It isn’t a new idea. The sci-fi movies of the 1940s and 1950s sometimes portrayed humans as creatures with huge heads and emaciated bodies because most of their energy was concentrated on cognitive activities. The truth is that today we are more concerned than ever with ensuring people have healthy bodies and healthy minds. Even corporate America has joined the fray as soda manufacturers urge consumers to balance what they eat, drink and do.
What is Promotion of Health?
A good idea would be to begin with the World Health Organization definition. “It is the process of enabling people to increase control over their health and its determinants, and thereby improve their health.” A determinate is anything that has a bearing on our physical condition. Some of these are our income, where we live, how secure our food and water systems are, where we work, where we play and how much we play.
Is This a New Idea?
The concept stems from a 1974 program in Canada that encouraged people to accept responsibility for their own health. It has undergone many changes. Currently initiatives for this type of approach to public health are supported by healthcare organizations, insurance companies, food manufacturers and others.
Who is Involved?
That’s right. They are. WHO, in this case, is the World Health Organization. There are many international organizations dealing with the issue. The American government has a department devoted to health, and one to occupational safety. They also have divisions that work to ensure potable water and agricultural standards. Additionally, there are social agencies that work with health issues and there are also private industry initiatives. They may overlap, but their goal is to work collaboratively.
What does this Collaboration Look Like?
In some cases, it involves issues like health equity that deal in income and access to healthcare. Health lobbyists and lawmakers work on the legal issues involved with providing affordable and quality healthcare. Industry innovations in promoting health involve wellness programs and incentives in the workplace. OSHA oversees safe working conditions. The government also has created a Healthy People 2020 program. Its goals are expected to be reached in a ten-year time frame and include 26 target areas for which they are gathering and assimilating data and evidence to support policies, providing tools for professionals working in the field and building a public crowd-source platform. In addition, people in public health work to establish dietary and exercise guidelines and nutritional recommendations, improve public healthcare literacy and advocate for healthcare quality and reform. There is also a push to promote health among Alaska’s indigenous people and among American Indians that deals with the issues of diabetes, nutrition, obesity, physical activity and exercise and with stop-smoking programs.
With so many components and so much input into an issue, we know that it is a hot current topic. The notion that people should take some responsibility for their own wellness is not new, but it is involved. Universities now offer degrees in promoting health and health education that prepare graduates for employment in many areas including public health, industry, healthcare facilities, healthcare policy-making and others. Health promotion is a huge concern, and one that has the potential to empower citizens to control their own destinies.